Go Wine Tasting at Enkidu Wines
Every winery has a story, and they’re often keen to tell it to you. You’ll find it on the website, under the tab titled, “Our Story.” Some were founded by that great-grandfather from the Old World; others inspired by that honeymoon in Tuscany. But surely none has a story as truly epic as this Sonoma winery: Enkidu’s story is the 4,500-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh.
Mythology buffs will be tickled to learn that Enkidu is named for a supporting character in the ancient Sumerian epic. Part god and part man, Enkidu was the original wild man who sported flowing hair and cavorted with his animal friends. The tie-in to wine is that he, like the grapevine, was eventually domesticated and brought into the fold of civilization.
After an epic dust-up, Enkidu became wingman to King Gilgamesh, and the two palled around the ancient Middle East until they get into a pickle over the slaying of the Bull of Heaven.
The Enkidu tasting room used to be located in Kenwood, but that’s ancient history: last year, Enkidu moved to the town of Sonoma, just off the Plaza’s south side. Spacious and uncluttered, the tasting room is dominated by a textured concrete bar and paintings, by winemaker Phil Staehle’s wife, Melissa, inspired by the story of Enkidu.
Staehle is a career winemaker who worked at the old Carmenet Vineyards in the 1980s and 1990s. Now he makes Enkidu wines, along with overseeing a few custom crush clients, in the Eighth Street warehouse winery district south of Sonoma.
You’ll find a range of wines at Enkidu, including usual suspects like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir from quality vineyard sources like Kick Ranch and Tina Marie. Recently I tasted the 2013 Bedrock Vineyard Barbera ($35), a lushly grapey, juicy red with the high acidity typical of this northern Italian varietal.
But Enkidu’s signature wine is Rhone-style blend, Humbaba. The current vintage is 68% Syrah, 30% Petite Sirah and 2% Alicante Bouschet. Something to look forward to every spring, the Shamhat rosé ($20) is a Syrah-based thirst quencher.
Enkidu isn’t the only Sonoma County winery that derives its name from this ancient Mesopotamian myth. Can you guess what winery is named for a goddess of fermentation? Hint: they’re from Texas, and they’re big on Pinot Noir.
Get Around Town
Sonoma’s 19th century history may seem ancient, but many of the buildings are still there. Stroll down the Sonoma bike and walking path to the former home of General Vallejo, “Lachryma Montis,” and explore the museum for a small fee.
520 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476. Daily 12noon–6pm. Tasting fee, $15–$25. 707.833.6100.